New Delhi: Cracking on a global hawala funds syndicate, an anti-money laundering court here has attached over Rs 83 lakh assets of a few Uttar Pradesh based individuals for allegedly making money by calling overseas numbers using hundreds of illegally procured WLL phones.
The attachment of bank accounts, cash and land properties of prime suspect Shafaat Ejaz Siddiqui and his associates has been ordered after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) froze these properties in January.
The ED registered a criminal case against these individuals under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognisance of a 2011 FIR of the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).
The ATS cracked the case after it found that Siddiqui along with half-a-dozen associates had "illegally obtained" 263 Reliance WLL (Wireless in Local Loop) PCO phone connections in Lucknow which were activated in 2011 and calls were made to a set of pre-determined international numbers by the accused and these calls were put on hold for a "very long period".
"The idea behind putting such calls on hold for a long period was that Ms Reliance Communications Ltd or the related service provider would pay to the corresponding international network the cost of such calls at higher rates.
"The suspect would get paid commission out of the payments made at higher rates to the foreign service provider... The commission was received in various bank accounts of the suspect/his relatives etc through money transfer and also allegedly by hawala," the ATS said in its FIR and the subsequent charge sheet.
The ATS alleged that two foreigners, one Spanish and one Pakistani, based in Saudi Arabia had roped in Siddiqui and others for this illegal job which entailed earning of money through illegal means and hawala which requires skirting of legal banking channels for obtaining funds from abroad.
"... The defendants (Siddiqui and associates) have committed the scheduled offences, generated proceeds of crime and laundered them. No doubt, the properties attached are proceeds of crime or value thereof and are involved in money laundering," the court of Adjudicating Authority of PMLA (Member) Mukesh Kumar said in its latest order.
The total value of the seized assets is Rs 83.35 lakh.